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FBI director ordered to explain why the FBI is recruiting insider sources within Catholic churches to inform on worshippers

“Americans attend church to worship and congregate for their spiritual and personal betterment. They must be free to exercise their fundamental First Amendment rights without worrying that the FBI may have planted so-called ‘tripwire’ sources or other informants in their houses of worship.”


After a whistleblower exposed an FBI memo that aimed to stop the supposed threat of “Radical Traditionalist Catholics” by gaining sources inside the churches, Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, sent a letter to FBI Director Christopher Wray ordering that he testify before the House of Representatives’ Committee on the Judiciary.

Quick Facts

Two months ago, Kyle Seraphin, a former FBI agent, exposed the document, which referred to the extremist threat of some Catholics who prefer the traditional Latin mass. The FBI used the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) — a leftist group that defines abortion as “reproductive justice” — as well as articles in the left-wing media outlets The Atlantic and Salon as evidence for the claim. Jordan, who is the chairman of the Committee on the Judiciary, requested documents from the FBI last month. After receiving some of the documents, Jordan’s letter subpoenas the documents previously requested but not provided.

Jordan wrote,

“Based on the limited information produced by the FBI to the Committee, we now know that the FBI relied on at least one undercover agent to produce its analysis, and that the FBI proposed that its agents engage in outreach to Catholic parishes to develop sources among the clergy and church leadership to inform on Americans practicing their faith. This shocking information reinforces our need for all responsive documents, and the Committee is issuing a subpoena to you to compel your full cooperation.”

Jordan added that the information shows the FBI “sought to use religious organizations as new avenues for tripwire and source development.” The FBI wrote about sensitizing congregations “to the warning signs of radicalization and to enlist their assistance to serve as suspicious activity tripwires.” Jordan also said that the FBI sought to contact mainline Catholic parishes and to leverage “‘existing sources initiating Type 5 Assessments to develop new sources with the placement and access’ to report on suspicious activity.”

Tripwires are trusted contacts.

“Americans attend church to worship and congregate for their spiritual and personal betterment. They must be free to exercise their fundamental First Amendment rights without worrying that the FBI may have planted so-called ‘tripwire’ sources or other informants in their houses of worship,” Jordan said.

The FBI told the Daily Wire that it “recognizes the importance of congressional oversight and remains fully committed to cooperating with Congress’s oversight requests consistent with its constitutional and statutory responsibilities.”

A spokesperson added, “The FBI is actively working to respond to congressional requests for information — including voluntary production of documents.”

In his testimony before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, Director Wray said he was “aghast” when he learned of the memo. “It does not reflect FBI standards. We do not conduct investigations based on religious affiliation or practices, full stop. We have also now ordered our inspection division to take a look at how this happened and try to figure out how we can make sure something like this doesn’t happen again,” he stated.

“And we do not and will not target people for religious beliefs, and we do not and will not monitor people’s religious practices,” he added. “That’s not acceptable.”

Why is the FBI targeting Catholics? Because of their opposition to abortion. Yes, it’s that simple, and no, it’s not hyperbole. The leaked memo makes it very clear that the FBI has taken a side in today’s moral battle over the humanity of unborn children. Just look carefully at the wording:

“The ongoing convergence of the far-right white nationalist movement and RTCs was further demonstrated through the increase in hostility toward abortion-rights advocates on social media sites in the run-up to and aftermath of the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization decision that overturned Roe v. Wade.”

Here, the FBI conflates hostility towards abortion — the proactive killing of an unborn human being — with hostility towards those who advocate for abortion. And even if there was some hostile online rhetoric towards pro-aborts, it was just talk. The only actual hostilities that took place before and after the Dobbs decision was perpetrated by pro-abortion groups against pro-life institutions and advocates.

It was pro-abortion groups that loudly and aggressively protested for months outside of the homes of the five Catholic Supreme Court justices who voted to overturn Roe. It was a pro-abortion activist that planned an assassination attempt against Catholic Justice Brett Kavanaugh. It was pro-abortion terror groups like Jane’s Revenge that firebombed, ransacked, stormed, and threatened violence on hundreds of Catholic churches, pregnancy resource centers, and pro-life organizations. And it was members of Jane’s Revenge who took to the Internet to call for a “Night of Rage” over the Dobbs decision and declared “open season” on pro-lifers.

And yet, the FBI thinks the pro-lifers are the threat. Why? Because according to today’s upside-down, twisted, woke ideology, words are violence but actual physical violence is free speech.

Thus, pro-lifers are arrested for praying outside of Planned Parenthood clinics, while pro-aborts who physically attack pregnancy resource centers and Catholic churches are largely ignored by both the FBI and the Department of Justice.

Here’s Seraphin’s assessment of the memo author’s views on abortion:

“The impetus of the writer can be assessed by the fixation on abortion and the repeated use of the phrase “abortion rights.” Documents like these can be used to drive the FBI’s priorities in specific regions and boost the visibility of non-existent threats. There is a reason the writer refers to the document as a ‘first of its kind’ Domain Perspective: it is generally out of bounds. However, intelligence products like this help focus on alleged ‘hostility towards the abortion-rights advocates,’ which the FBI has used to justify significant enforcement actions tied to the FACE [Freedom to Access Clinic Entrances] Act.”

He pointed to the SWAT-like, early morning raids on the homes of pro-life Americans in the fall of 2022 and the eventual acquittal of Mark Houck, a pro-life Catholic who was tried under the FACE Act for defending his son against an aggressive Planned Parenthood escort, even as the FBI turned a blind eye to the left-wing attacks on pro-life churches and pregnancy centers (which are also protected under the FACE Act).

Seraphin explained too that the FBI relies heavily on propaganda put out by the SPLC — which characterizes groups that don’t share its left-wing ideology as “hate groups” on par with the Ku Klux Klan — to inform its monitoring and targeting activities. This “intelligence” includes the SPLC’s dubious and unsubstantiated charge that pro-lifers committed over “200 bombings and arson attacks on abortion clinics” over the past 20 years, despite the fact that were more than 300 fully-documented arson and vandalism attacks on Catholic churches between May 2020 and April 2023 (147 of which took place after the Dobbs decision), along with 83 attacks on pregnancy resource centers and pro-life groups.

Seraphin explained:

“This tremendous statistical mismatch usually would have led federal law enforcement to focus on the highest threat, but the increasingly Leftist bend of FBI enforcement actions appears to have ignored this trend. It also appears the writer is simply assuming RMVEs [Racially Motivated Violent Extremists] share common cause with Conservatives, including practicing Catholics, on issues about abortion, immigration, affirmative action, and LGBTQ protections. This editorial bias should give the reader of this document a medium to high confidence the intelligence analyst is the product of left-leaning higher education and leftist values.”

Catholics believe that abortion is evil, and the leadership of the FBI don’t agree so FBI agents are now actively and openly targeting those who seek to protect life. As Isaiah 5:20 says,

“Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil;
Who substitute darkness for light and light for darkness;
Who substitute bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter!”

It’s hard to believe that this is happening in the United States where Americans’ right to exercise their religious beliefs is guaranteed by the Constitution, which understands such rights to be “God given,” meaning they are not a government-regulated privilege that can be granted and retracted at the whim of men.

Targeting and intimidating churches is a tactic of totalitarian governments; in America, unlike Communist China, the government doesn’t have the right to try to force Christians and other religious groups to adhere to the state’s secular beliefs and it doesn’t have the right to target and spy on Christians for holding to biblical beliefs and sharing those beliefs with others.

Christopher Wray’s earlier testimony that he was “aghast” to learn that his agents are targeting churches rings hollow. Actions speak louder than words, and the FBI and DOJ’s actions this past year show that they have purposefully placed their finger on the scale of justice — and that scale is now weighed heavily against Catholics and other pro-lifers.

Fortunately, we still have a system of checks and balances. Congress must carry out that critical responsibility by investigating all information relating to the vilifying of pro-lifers and effectively checking this illegal power grab by federal law enforcement.

America is not a totalitarian state where the government gets to approve what religious organizations may believe. Federal law enforcement cannot be allowed to go after religious groups, or America will soon resemble Communist China, where churches that adhere to state-approved dogma are allowed to congregate while those that do not are forced to go underground.

Ready to dive deeper into the intersection of faith and policy? Head over to our Theology of Politics series page where we’ve published several long-form pieces that will help Christians navigate where their faith should direct them on political issues.

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